Online do-it-yourself (DIY) estate planning forms are growing in popularity. Although these forms may work for some people, many who use them end up with a false sense of security. Sometimes, people have unique circumstances that are not appropriate for such simple estate plans. Other times, the completed forms end up being invalidated because the proper steps were not taken to make them legally binding.
If you are thinking about trying a DIY estate plan, you may save money, but you will not be around to make sure your estate plan holds up through probate. Unfortunately, it can be expensive and time consuming for surviving loved ones to deal with the mess DIY estate plans can cause.
Unique situations demand personalized estate plans
According to the American Bar Association, those who want to leave modest assets to their closest relative may be able to get by with online estate planning documents. However, this situation does not describe most people.
Often, people’s lives are complicated and their estate planning needs are unique. Parents may want to plan for the needs of minor or special needs children. A retired couple may own property together or may own property in more than one state. A young adult may wish to leave property for a significant other, though they remain unmarried. Others may want to minimize estate taxes, avoid probate or ensure children from multiple marriages receive their fair share.
Technical expertise and practical advice
An attorney who specializes in estate planning can help evaluate the best estate planning tools for your situation and your goals. If you are unsure about what certain documents do or who to appoint for certain positions, an attorney can help by providing explanations and advice based on years of experience in the field. Then, he or she can help make sure all the legal requirements are met, so you can be confident your documents are valid.
Every individual should choose the process that he or she feels most comfortable with. However, it is important to consider all the possible effects of your estate plan, not just the potential to save money up front. Although online DIY estate planning documents may be growing in popularity, they are not the best choice for every situation.